Installing Windows XP on a Viglen MPC-L

I bought a teeny tiny Viglen MPC-L PC after a friend told me about them. I’m going to use it for the same reason he does – to connect my CurrentCost to so I can collect electricity usage data (I’m currently using an old Dell laptop which isn’t ideal).

Teeny tiny Viglen PC

Teeny tiny Viglen PC

The little Viglens are normally £99, but can be currently bought for £77 including VAT and Delivery – details are available by listening to the Ubuntu UK Podcast. Mine was delivered today as promised by Viglen but sadly didn’t come in a box that is far too big for it like most people’s have. Also in the box was a Microsoft mouse, a really cheap and nasty Viglen-branded keyboard, and something of a nice unexpected surprise – a 2Gb memory stick! There are plenty of other blogs detailing the size of the box and also the specs of these things, but basically they are a silent fanless very low-power (10W) PC with a 400MHz AMD Geode CPU, an 80Gb hard drive and 512Mb of memory.

They come with some sort of Ubuntu installed on them by default, but I wanted to run Windows XP on mine as I’m not quite nerdy enough to use Linux.

Installing Windows XP on one of these poses some interesting challenges, as the device obviously has no optical drive to stick a CD into. They can be booted from a USB stick though (providing you use one of the two USB1.0 ports on the rear rather than one of the four USB2.0 ports on the front)

After some very brief googling, I found this excellent guide to installing XP from a USB stick. I used a 256Mb memory stick to create the boot drive, and copied the i386 folder from the XP installation CD to a USB hard drive I had laying around.

The installation was much easier than I was expecting. The steps I performed are as follows:

  1. Follow these instructions for creating a BartPE bootable memory stick using a separate PC
  2. Connect an external USB hard drive to the other PC and copy the i386 folder from the XP installation CD onto it
  3. Plug the keyboard and bootable memory stick into the USB1.0 ports on the rear of the Viglen
  4. Power up the Viglen and press F1 to enter the BIOS
  5. Change the boot order so that the USB memory stick is first in the list
  6. Power the Viglen down, plug the external USB hard drive into one of the USB2.0 ports on the front of the unit and power it all back up again
  7. The Viglen should boot into BartPE from the memory stick
  8. Follow the rest of the instructions to kick off the XP installation

And that’s it. Pretty simple.

Performance-wise, this thing isn’t going to win any awards when running XP, but it’s more than usable. I’ve got it connected to my 37″ LCD telly running at a resolution of 1600×1200 quite happily

Next steps are to get the CurrentCost connected to it and see how it performs with that…

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18 responses to “Installing Windows XP on a Viglen MPC-L

  1. Heh, I’d be interested to know how well or badly Windows performs on it. I don’t think I’d have the patience to put XP on mine, well done 🙂

  2. @Alan: XP actually runs pretty well on it. It is certainly better than I was expecting and is perfectly usable

  3. Pingback: Running SqueezeCenter on a Viglen MPC-L « Furtive’s Blog

  4. Can you tell where I can get the graphics and sound drivers for XP from please?

    Thanks

  5. @Steve – I downloaded the XP drivers from this link on the AMD website, but it’s prompting for a username and password now for some reason.

  6. Thanks, I have just spoken with Viglen and they given me this link:-

    ftp://ftp.viglen.co.uk/files/Viglen_Contender_MPC/Drivers/XP/

    I’ve just installed the drivers and all is working fine including monitor sleep mode. Fantastic!

    Steve

  7. @Steve – great stuff, thanks for that link.

  8. It’s been over a month since you wrote this article and was wondering how XP is doing on the box, any regrets?

  9. Also are you guys using XP lite or the full version?

  10. @Fat Mike – XP is doing great on the box and I’ve got no regrets about installing it on the little Viglen. It’s a full install of XP and I’m running SqueezeCenter on it and the CurrentCost server (see my other blog entries for details). I’ve also got uVNC running on it so I can manage it remotely and it works no problem. The only time I’ve had to touch it since installing it was when Windows Update forced a reboot and I hadn’t set it to automatically log back in.

  11. XP it is! also I’m thinking of using it as a downloader, using Grabit or torrents, anyone else reading this blog used it for this purpose? One further question can you play any movies (Divx) or is it not powerful enough for this?

  12. @fat mike – I use my viglen for torrenting, but I don’t run XP on it. I run Ubuntu server on it with no GUI. With torrentflux I can point a web browser at the box and give it .torrent files to download. Works a treat.

  13. @fat mike – a friend of mine has installed XP on his and has uTorrent (including automated RSS feeds) running just fine 24/7.

    I haven’t tried playing any DivX files on it, but would be surprised if it managed to play them very well. It’s fairly slow at just drawing the XP interface!

  14. Forget video. It won’t even play you youtube videos I’m using XP Media Center (Just as XP not for the Media Center)

  15. I’ve now put XP on it, BartPE was a bit fiddly but it’s worth it, XP runs quite well. I’ve ran it through XPlite and a couples of other optimising tools and now it’s quite nippy. Runs really well with Remote Desktop and LogMeIn is fine with it. I’m currently using it as my dowloading center, running Grabit.

    I’ll keep everyone updated on what other purposes I’ve found for it. Cheers everyone

  16. Pingback: CurrentCost revisited « furtive

  17. can you run 360 / 480 videos, can you run standard def content via media player classic which is lightweight? i have 2 of these devices, don’t know what to do with them.

  18. I can’t remember Zaheer I’m afraid. I haven’t powered mine on now for years. It’s in a box with all my other “stuff that might be useful one day”

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